Let me first of all thank the organizers of this event – Permanent Missions of Mexico and the United Kingdom – for the invitation to share some of our ideas about the prospects of the United Nations system cooperation with middle-income countries.
This year, we have witnessed a rise of interest to the issue of middle-income countries. A major international conference on this topic was organized by Costa-Rica in partnership with UNIDO in June, and regional conferences on development cooperation with middle-income countries were held in Cairo, Minsk and Amman.
All these events drew the attention to the need for the UN system to continue assisting the group of middle-income countries. All stakeholders should cooperate in order to leave no space for returning of a country to a lower developmental status and avoid “middle-income trap”.
In this context the current UN system-wide development cooperation with middle-income countries, unfortunately, lacks a strategic framework.
What is needed in this situation, in our view, is a greater degree of coherence and complementarity to the UN system when it comes to its cooperation with middle-income countries as an extremely diverse group. There cannot be a “one-size-fits-all” approach to middle-income countries. It makes sense for the UN system to adopt policies and inter-agency coordination approaches towards them that would properly account for their needs and potentials.
What are the results achieved and lessons learned so far when it comes to the UN cooperation with MICs?
We welcome the consensus reached last week in the UN General Assembly Second Committee on the middle-income countries resolution. This document could serve as a basis for future deliberations on this topic, especially on the advancement of a more coordinated and better focused approach to this category of countries within the United Nations.
The 2013 San Jose Declaration calls for the establishment of a comprehensive United Nations Action Plan on cooperation with middle-income countries. Negotiations on the recent UN GA resolution demonstrated that we probably need more time to shape consensus on this particular proposal. Maybe at this point we could take a closer look at the idea of elaborating a UN inter-agency plan of action on cooperation with middle-income countries, which would not entail any additional resources.
Another important understanding we have achieved is that middle-income countries play a dual role in the context of development – as receivers and providers of different forms of assistance. Interaction with middle-income countries could be built upon an “asset-based approach”, under which MICs should be encouraged to contribute to development cooperation with their own “assets”, be they financial, in-kind or even intangible, like, for instance, knowledge sharing.
One more important message that we have tried to convey is that there is no intention on the part of middle-income countries to advance their agenda to the detriment of any other groups of countries, in particular the least developed countries. What is crucial in this context is that middle-income countries by means of their development experience increasingly play a catalytic role for least developed countries. This can eventually lead to the creation of a partnership which, on a global scale, can become critical in meeting sustainable development expectations.
Another issue we will have to tackle is the question of classification of middle-income countries. Currently, we rely on the income-based World Bank criteria. It has been rightly argued on many occasions that this approach does not reflect fully all the particularities and development challenges faced by MICs.
Finally, when talking about middle-income countries, we have to keep in mind the ongoing process to shape the post-2015 UN sustainable development agenda. It is our firm belief that this agenda should adequately reflect the diverse development challenges of middle-income countries.
Summing up, I would like to reiterate the main idea we have been advancing, namely, the call for a better coordinated UN system-wide approach that would enable comprehensive, effective and efficient sustainable development cooperation with middle-income countries.